Sebastien Bourdais of France, in action in 2017, won his 37th IndyCar race in St. Petersburg
Miami (AFP) - France’s Sebastien Bourdais won the IndyCar season-opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, for the second straight year, seizing the triumph as the race leaders crashed on the penultimate lap.
For Bourdais, 39, it was a 37th IndyCar triumph, but his first since his horrific accident at the Indianapolis 500 last May, when he suffered hip and pelvic fractures that sidelined him until last August, when he returned for the last three races of the season.
Bourdais crossed the line in his Dale Coyne Racing car ahead of American’s Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Andretti’s Alexander Rossi.
Canadian pole-sitter Robert Wickens, trying to become the first driver to win an IndyCar race in his debut since Buzz Calkins in 1996, led a race-high 69 laps. He was in front for a lap 108 restart after a full-course caution, but on the restart Rossi tried to pass him on the inside going into turn one, slid wide and hit him.
Wickens’ car was disabled. Rossi continued, but Bourdais inherited the victory and Rahal also sneaked through.
James Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished fourth. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammate, was fifth.
American Josef Newgarden, winner of the 2017 series title, finished seventh.